The Germans are coming!

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jurryaany

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Unread post15 May 2019, 16:28

Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Block III Nuclear Capable by 2025

As the Block III Super HORNET (and incidentally the E/A-18 GROWLER) will be offered to Germany to replace its fleet of aging TORNADOs, Boeing states during the Media tour that, "by 2025 we will have nuclear capability." The German Ministry of Defense is looking at the nonstealthy Eurofighter TYPHOON and F/A-18 Super HORNET and to replace Germany's 90 TORNADO aircraft set to retire in 2035, but the jets will have to carry nuclear weapons. The TYPHOON is not nuclear capable yet ,but a purchase of 45 Super HORNETs could complement 143 TYPHOONs.


https://www.monch.com/mpg/news/air/5450-f18blk3.html

Looks like Boeing is really going for it.
https://www.reddit.com/r/MilitaryProcurement/
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marsavian

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Unread post15 May 2019, 19:03

F/A-18E/F Super HORNET Block III complements capabilities of E/A-18G & E-2D to optimise carrier air wings with an increased range (via conformal fuel tanks, over the wings in low drag configuration, opening up new weapon stations) and enhanced situational awareness via new advanced glass cockpit systems, flying today with the first Kuwaiti aircraft. Further features include advanced network connectivity via satellite communication (SATCOM), a 9,000 hour airframe and significant reduced signature (lower radar cross section) with coating on few additional hotspots. A common tactical picture is also added, i.e. long wave/range Infrared Search And Track Systems (IRST) (Program of Record independent of Block IIII), Distributed Targeting Processor Network (DTP-N) open architecture, multi-level secure processor and Collins Aerospace's Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) datalink

Two jets are to be delivered this year and, according to Boeing, "all Block IIs will become Block IIIs via an upgrade programme, delivered through 2033; 550 Block IIIs alltogether."


Wasn't the Super Hornet already being portrayed by many here as already highly optimized for LO ? 'Hotspot' does not sound it to me.
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ricnunes

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Unread post17 May 2019, 10:42

marsavian wrote:Wasn't the Super Hornet already being portrayed by many here as already highly optimized for LO ? 'Hotspot' does not sound it to me.


The keyword here is again, PR.

Imagine for instance that the Super Hornet has a RCS of 0.4 square meters but with those improvements that you're mentioning above it will get to lets says 0.2-0.3 square meters. Is this tactically relevant? Perhaps not, or not much.
However if the SH RCS is 0.4 but with Block III it is reduced to 0.3 then Boeing can claim a 25% improvement in terms of RCS. On the other hand if they manage to get as low as 0.2, Boeing can claim a 50% improvement in terms of RCS or resuming reducing the aircraft's RCS to "half".
That's what the Block III RCS "significant" improvements really are.
Last edited by ricnunes on 17 May 2019, 15:59, edited 1 time in total.
A 4th/4.5th gen fighter aircraft stands about as much chance against a F-35 as a guns-only Sabre has against a Viper.
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mixelflick

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Unread post17 May 2019, 15:39

And is the price for this reduction in RCS really worth it?

That's an interesting question, because when you start hanging bombs, rockets, fuel tanks off of it you wind up with...something that's still going to be an easy target? I realize that the S-300/400/500 may be not all they're cracked up to be, but it would seem to me you either buy real (VLO) stealth... or not.

I suppose only the pilots and a few other choice individuals really know..
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ricnunes

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Unread post17 May 2019, 16:15

mixelflick wrote:And is the price for this reduction in RCS really worth it?


Yes, that's the "million dollar question" (for Boeing), isn't it?

IMO, will the extra price for such RCS reductions be tactically relevant?
First, I would say it depends on the amount of that extra cost.
Secondly, if that cost is to be from "quite high" to "very high" then I would say: No, I don't think would be (not much at least).

For example a Radar that can detects a 1 square meter RCS target at 200km, will detect a:
- 0,4 RCS target at 159km
- 0,3 RCS target at 148km
- 0,2 RCS target at 134km

And like you correctly said, when you start hanging bombs, missiles, fuel tanks, etc... than the diferences probably won't matter much, if anything at all.

Now if Boeing gets new Super Hornet customers and/or more Super Hornet purchases due to these RCS reduction measures then that same extra cost will most likely be worth it. However and again, this would be more into the PR realm than into the tactical real (IMO, that is). :wink:
A 4th/4.5th gen fighter aircraft stands about as much chance against a F-35 as a guns-only Sabre has against a Viper.
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marsavian

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Unread post17 May 2019, 19:38

Don't forget that the Block III will also incorporate its IRST21 on a centerline fuel tank degrading RCS especially from the side.
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usnvo

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Unread post18 May 2019, 03:22

jurryaany wrote:Looks like Boeing is really going for it.


The article had three comments from Boeing concerning Block III production and modernization and nuclear capable by 2025 (the italicized parts). The balance of the article was just regurgitation of previous comments/claims by the author unrelated to any specific bid. The only new information seems to be the nuclear capability by 2025, the rest is typical Paris (or anywhere else) airshow marketing.
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marauder2048

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Unread post18 May 2019, 03:31

usnvo wrote:The only new information seems to be the nuclear capability by 2025.


And given that nuclear certification is the much longer pole it's not a meaningful date.
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loke

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Unread post18 May 2019, 22:20

marauder2048 wrote:
usnvo wrote:The only new information seems to be the nuclear capability by 2025.


And given that nuclear certification is the much longer pole it's not a meaningful date.

I dont understand what you are trying to say...?
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optimist

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Unread post19 May 2019, 06:12

I really can't see then buying the Super Hornet. They will buy EU to support the industry there. Or the F-35 for a list of reasons, in my mind.
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marsavian

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Unread post19 May 2019, 12:42

Buying the Growler as a dual EW/Nuclear aircraft to replace the Tornadoes currently doing that job is the most likely scenario leaving them to buy normal Typhoons for the rest of their requirements. Agreed the standard Super Hornet does not have much of a chance against the home spun Typhoon but buying Growlers where Boeing have already done the EW/Nuclear work for them would be convenient allowing them to buy local products for everything else and placate the EU lobby. F-35 is politically unwelcome in countries that are doing the NGF/SCAF product as it could potentially limit the domestic need for it.
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magitsu

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Unread post19 May 2019, 12:58

Very reasonable, since Growler's capabilities are in very high demand within the coalition. It offers a way for the Germans to contribute without dropping bombs, which they clearly don't want to do.
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ricnunes

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Unread post19 May 2019, 13:07

Yeah, a nuclear capable Growler would be an interesting choice for Germany since it allows for the replacement of the current nuclear-capable Tornadoes and the Tornado ECR at the same time and with the same airframe/aircraft.

I can see them (Germany) purchasing a handful of Growlers while the remaining order of this new aircraft batch would be composed by new built Typhoons.
A 4th/4.5th gen fighter aircraft stands about as much chance against a F-35 as a guns-only Sabre has against a Viper.
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usnvo

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Unread post19 May 2019, 23:00

marauder2048 wrote:
usnvo wrote:The only new information seems to be the nuclear capability by 2025.


And given that nuclear certification is the much longer pole it's not a meaningful date.


The article quotes the Boeing representative as saying "by 2025 we will have nuclear capability." Maybe it is just me, but there seems to be both a question and a dependent clause that is missing before the quote that will add required context to understand what they are saying. For instance.

"How soon can the Super Hornet be nuclear capable?"
"If we could start the certification work tomorrow, by 2025 we will have nuclear capability."

In other words, just a wordy way of saying they project a 6 year certification program.

Or, it could just be a statement such as
"If the Super Hornet is selected, by 2025 we will have nuclear capability."
So they are projecting when they could be nuclear certified if, and only if, they win the contract.

And of course, they could have said something like
"The US Navy has already funded nuclear certification and we have started work on it, by 2025 we will have nuclear capability."
That is clearly the impression the author wanted, but I am not sure that matches up to reality.
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marauder2048

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Unread post20 May 2019, 21:38

I don't believe the Navy has nuclear certified an aircraft since the A-6; the tribal knowledge
on this front is likely completely gone.

It's a different story for the Air Force. But the timelines there are instructive:

If you look at the certification timeline for the F-35 it's ~ 6 years for an aircraft
that was designed from day one to be nuclear capable; the Super Hornet was not.

And that's in conjunction with an NNSA that has the budget and capacity and
has been planning for it for years.

The Air Force/NNSA have done B61-12 System 2 integration on two other
aircraft (F-15E and B-2) so the clean-sheet nuclear certification timeline is founded on
some realism derived from experience.

And the Super Hornet timeline would put it in contention for the resources needed
for B-21 nuclear certification.
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